Three Big Events You’ll Kick Yourself For Missing this Weekend

Already seen Ottawa Little Theatre’s Beyond a Joke and Plosive Production’s Death and the Maiden? Not interested? Just looking for something a little more original? Well then, sir or madam, you are in luck. This weekend(ish), there are three – yes, three – great events that are all a bit out of the ordinary.



Write a play no longer than ten minutes, featuring no more than four characters, using minimal set and prop elements…oh, and still tell an engaging story. That was the call to action that brought about the New Theatre of Ottawa’s Extremely Short Play Festival.

The challenge was open to all and saw forty entries from five cities in North America. After an adjudication by local theatre professionals, those forty were narrowed down to the eleven best – covering a wide range of style, content, and subject matter – and it’s those eleven that make up the evening’s entertainment for The Extremely Short Play Festival.

Ottawa has never seen an evening of theatre like this; it’s unique. You’ll find yourself all over the place physically and emotionally every ten minutes. It’s an evening of brilliant writing, inspired and hilarious performances and theatrical invention. It’s your chance to experience entertainment that will delight you. Don’t miss the event that you will want to tell your friends about.
John Koensgen,  Artistic Director of the New Theatre of Ottawa

The cast for The Extremely Short Play Festival. (Photo by Andrew Alexander)

All eleven plays run every night now until Saturday May 12th at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Avenue) on a $30 ticket. That’s only about $2.75 per play when you work it out. Go math!

Here’s the full list of the plays, which include work from both budding playwrights as well as local veterans whose names you might already be familiar with. (Yes, all the chosen plays turned out to from be local stock.)

  • Experience the surprising emotional aftershocks of the 1916 Halifax Explosion in When the World Fell Awayby Geoff McBride
  • Learn how the formula for extraterrestrial solar illuminance and love are connected in The Orrery by Pierre Brault
  • Feel the euphoria of an average working guy as he steps into a boxing ring in Float like a Butterfly by Kevin and James Smith
  • Meet a Walmart greeter and an English professor as they push each other to the edge in The Bridge by Jessica Anderson
  • Marvel at an unlikely encounter between Socrates and Sid Vicious in the afterlife in Vicious by David O’Meara
  • Join two ex-lovers for a simple lunch date that becomes anything but in Late by Lawrence Aronovitch
  • Cheer on a kid from the violent slums of New York in his struggle to become an actor in Ambition by Adam Pierre
  • Find out how much ransom you should ask the next time you kidnap a hamster in Happy by Tina Prud’homme
  • Hear how the guy who makes the last meal for Death Row prisoners feels about his job in Just Desserts by Kelley Tish Baker
  • Find out what can go wrong when you let your mother write your dating website profile in The Dog, The Cat, and The Fish by Andrea Connell
  • Discover the cosmic secrets hidden in a Tim Horton’s cup in You Win by Geoff McBride

This festival is an amazing opportunity for emerging playwrights like myself, to not only get our work produced professionally but also to hone our skills by having to create under such strict parameters.  I’d never written a ten-minute play before, but this experience has inspired to write more of them. I’ve fallen in love with the form and its possibilities. Paradoxically, there is freedom in limitation.
Kelley Tish Baker, Playwright of Just Desserts.

More information can be found on the New Ottawa Theatre home page or the event page for The Extremely Short Play Festival.



This may not immediately appeal to you as a way to spend a Saturday, but if you have a little somebody in your life, what better way to show you care – or at least to get them out of the house for a fun day of theatrical entertainment – than by taking them out to see Canterbury High School’s Children’s Theatre Festival on Saturday, May 12th.

The cast of The Mechanicals at Canterbury’s Children’s Theatre Festival

Produced by students, for students, the Children’s Festival sees Canterbury’s grade eleven drama class put together three plays targeted for children aged three to ten, all written by Canterbury students or Alumni. They will be running the shows all week for local schools and opening their work to the public for one day only this Saturday. The purpose of the assignment is to teach the students how to think on their feet and try to entertain the harshest audience a theatre actor can face: children.

Each of the three plays runs at 10:00AM, 11:30AM, and 1:00PM at Canterbury High School (900 Canterbury Avenue) so you can choose which order you want to see them in or even just watch one of the plays three times. The best part is that all shows are completely FREE, which makes this an even better bargain per play than the last event we talked about. How do you divide free by three anyway? Plus they’ll have a series of games and events taking place throughout the day between shows making this the perfect event for you to spend time with any and all of the little kids in your life.

Synopses of the three plays are included below, but we had the opportunity to head out to Canterbury earlier this week to get a bit of a preview and, as always, we wanted to share that with you. Here’s the official Production Ottawa video preview for Canterbury’s Children’s Theatre Festival:

Having trouble with the video? Watch directly on YouTube instead.

The cast and director of William Wallaby the Water Waster at Canterbury’s Children’s Theatre Festival

William Wallaby the Water Waster: William Wallaby is a really bad water waster. His sister, Lily, tells him that he is taking too many showers, but he does not listen! When all of the water disappears, both of them get sucked down the drain into an underwater world, and have to figure out who the water thief is. They get separated on their journey, but luckily they meet new friends that help them find their way back to each other. Throughout their exciting underwater sea adventure, William and Lily’s new friends teach them not to waste so much water, and to try their best to save it. (Written by Katie Hammoud and directed by Hunter Delorme)

The Mechanicals: The Mechanicals is about five friends who embark on a mission to create the Best Play Ever Made! When things don’t go the way they want it to, and one of the mechanicals leaves the group, the other four must find him before the auditions start. Will this group of friends come together in time, or will they miss their chance to be a part of the Best Play Ever Made? Come and see the Mechanicals to find out! (Written and directed by Sultanna Krispil)

Dr. David Allen Stern’s Correctional Academy for the Institutionalization of Unnaturally Odd Children: Anabelle Edwards is sent to Dr. David Allen Stern’s Correctional Academy for the Institutionalization of Unnaturally Odd Children because she is incurably odd. There she meets Stella and Ella (twins) and the evil Dr. David Allen Stern (along with his dim witted assistant, Charles). While polishing the doctor’s desk one night, Anabelle discovers a letter proving that Dr. David Allen Stern isn’t a real doctor after all. In the end they call the police but the doctor escapes and everyone learns its not so bad to be different after all. (Written by Wade Borget-O’Brien and directed by Alecks Charron)

More information can be found on the Facebook event for the Children’s Theatre Festival.



Whether we saved the best for last will depend on your likes (and whether you’re in one of these events), but we definitely saved the most unique for last.

MiCasa Theatre presents HIDE at SubDevision (Photo by Matthew Parsons)

Here’s what I think happened. Members from eight of Ottawa’s top independent theatre companies were hanging out in a church – no, I can’t explain why they were hanging out in a church, they’re theatre-type people – when suddenly they realized somebody had locked them in. Faced with the prospect of no escape and the dawning realization that they soon might have to battle one another to the death, Hunger Games-style, for the limited resources at their disposal, each company retreated to a different area of the church – sanctuary, closet, kitchen – and prepared. In the morning, the caretaker of the church was surprised when he opened the doors and found them all there, but he agreed not to say anything if they didn’t because he didn’t want to be fired for locking people in the church. The theatre companies? Well rather than plan how to hunt each other like they were supposed to, they each devised short performance pieces specifically to take advantage of the territory they’d eked out. And now with all these great performance pieces in tow, they decided to rent the church for a couple of evenings so they could present them to an audience and just throw an all out party.

Okay. So that probably isn’t how it happened at all. But here’s the main fact to get out of that tale: eight of Ottawa’s top independent theatre companies have put together the most unique theatrical event you’re likely to find happening this year and it runs for only three nights - Thursday May 10 through Saturday May 12.

Taking place in St. Paul’s Eastern United Church, the companies have each devised performance pieces specifically for the part of the space they’ve taken over, often blurring the lines between audience and artist.  On top of it all, they’re throwing a massive party, complete with DJ and licensed bar. (update: SubDevision will be alcohol free until the after-party, details in the comments below)

It’s a “celebration of site-specific, innovative, boundary-pushing theatre” for “an audience that appreciates theatrical innovation and wants to be challenged beyond the traditional boundaries that separate audience from artists.”

Devised theatre is theatre that is created by non-traditional methods. Rather than rehearsing and performing a pre-written script, devising is a process by which a company experiments in the rehearsal hall. Through trial and error, the project is “written” on its feet - some experiments are successful and go on to make it into the final product, others are less successful and scrapped.  The devising process can take months or years to complete, is often painful, but can result in innovative, mold-breaking, exciting live theatre!

Over the past few years, devised theatre companies have begun popping up all over Ottawa and our city is beginning to be nationally recognized as a growing hub for innovative theatre creation - hence the reason we thought it was about time to celebrate with an event like SubDevision!
- Catriona Leger, Associate Producer for SubDevision

The way it will go down is as follows. Each of seven shows will run concurrently three times an hour (two shows use the same space, one before sunset, the other after). As an audience member, your choice is what to see, when, and how many times. You can go show-to-show in alphabetical order to satisfy your OCD, or you can spend all night in the kitchen.

Two Little Birds presents Conversations With Strangers at SubDevision

Inspired by the fact that people tend to gather in the kitchen at parties, Kiersten Hanly, Sara Duplancic and [Sarah Conn] are hosting a party in St Paul’s kitchen called Conversations with Strangers. There will be delicious food (care of Patrick O’Neil, chef extraordinaire!), great music, drinks, and maybe one or two party games. But there’s an elephant in the room that will need to be addressed sooner or later.
Sarah Conn, Two Little Birds

Or, you can just hang out in the bar and hear about all the good times people are having watching the performances. The important thing is that the choice is entirely yours.

That’s St. Paul’s Eastern United Church (473 Cumberland Street), May 10 through May 12. Tickets are $20 and how that breaks down per show depends what you see. Drinks are extra. More info, including breakdowns of all eight shows, can be found on the Facebook event for SubDevision.


And that’s the three things you probably want to be doing this weekend. Spring cleaning will just have to wait. We’ll have reps out to all three and will recap them for you next week. No matter which of them you get out to, please come back and tell us what you thought in the comments below. What worked for you and what didn’t?  And please, share this article around if even one of these events sounds interesting to you whether you plan to go or not. Support your local theatre community by helping spread the word.

PS - Speaking of sharing, did you know we’re on Facebook now?

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

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  1. Here’s the update from SubDevision about drinks during the event:

    “At the last minute, St. Paul’s Eastern United Church has informed us that they do not wish to have alcohol on the premises during SubDevision or at any time. In the interest of maintaining a healthy relationship between the Ottawa Theatre Community and this valuable performance venue, we would like to respect the church’s decision and not provide alcohol in the hall. As the intended spirit of our event is to provide a party-like atmosphere in and around live theatre, non-alcoholic “mocktails” and refreshments will be available throughout the performances. Afterwards, SubDevision will host a private party each night at 11pm at the Novotel in the Trio Bar and Lounge at 33 Nicholas Street – an alcohol-friendly venue just a short 3 minute walk from St. Paul’s. Here, audience and performers are invited to congregate and talk about their individual experiences over refreshing beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic – as you will), til the wee hours of the morn.

    We all know we don’t need to have booze to have a good time, and with such mold-breaking theatre, we at SubDevision feel confident that no one needs to be drunk to enjoy the evening. We hope you will agree that it is more important for the indie theatre community to maintain a strong relationship with a valued venue than to encourage our audiences to get drunk!

    Please enjoy the shows and we will see you afterwards at the Novotel!

    In Solidarity,
    The SubDevision Team

  2. Vera Kadar says:

    I have seen Death of a Maiden, The Extremely Short Plays, Beyond a Joke (they were all very good) and looking forward to see King Lear at the NAC tomorrow.
    Unofficially I named Ottawa “Broadway way-up-North” as our Theater scene is getting richer by the hours. I love living here, not to forget that we are 2 hours away from Montreal, where on Sunday I can see Greg Kramer in The Hounted Hillbilly.

    • Allan Mackey says:

      Thanks for commenting. I agree, all three you mentioned seeing were great nights of theatre. How did you find King Lear?

      • Vera Kadar says:

        It is a bit after the fact, I found it amazing because I walked into the theatre with a wide open mind.
        I managed to accept the story of King Lear as something that happened in the XVII century of Canada.
        I loved the accents of the First Nations actors, the custumes and the scenery were very effective as well, lets hope it got filmed, a groundbraking theatrical event like this should be in the “History Book of Canadian Theatre”.

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